The Grand Tour: Mürren, Pontresina, Zermatt
(Village-based luxury walking/hiking tour)
Length: 8 days, 7 nights
Hike Rating: Moderate - Strenuous
When tourists first started coming to the Alps in the 1700 and 1800's, their travels, known as "The Grand Tour", were always first class and included stops in Europe's most well-known destinations. We've recreated that experience here with visits to three of the most classic alpine destinations. In Grand Tour style, you'll stay in absolute comfort in distinctive, luxurious hotels, including the stunning 5-star Riffelalp Resort - the best accomodations each area has to offer - and travel by 1st class rail along the Glacier Express and other memorable train journeys. World-class hotels, scenic train rides, and interesting villages also make this tour a great choice for non-hiking spouses and friends who would prefer to spend time relaxing while others hike.
Our tour starts in Mürren, a gorgeous car-free village perched dramatically atop a cliff overlooking the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains in the heart of the Bernese Oberland. We spend 3 nights here, and then transfer to Zermatt, a hiker's paradise, nestled beneath the incomparable Matterhorn. After two nights in the shadow of the Matterhorn, we board the famous Glacier Express train on a scenic cross-country journey to Pontresina, the serene jewel of the St. Moritz lakes region, near the border with Austria and Italy. Our home here is the Grand Hotel Kronenhof, recently named the "Best Hotel in the World" by Tripadvisor. All three areas contain numerous unforgettable hikes and vistas that make this tour grand in every sense!
A typical day starts with a continental buffet breakfast at your hotel - a bounty of delicious fresh baked bread and croissants, local meats and cheeses, cereal, fruit, coffee and juice - which gives us the energy needed for the day ahead. Soon we'll be out on the trail, where you'll get to choose between an easier or more strenuous hike for the day. Each morning, you'll be handed a lunch to carry, and at a mid-point along the way we'll choose a beautiful spot to stop and enjoy our picnic. We get a lot of compliments on our imaginative lunches - making them something to look forward to as well!
We should finish our hike around 4 pm, giving you time to wash up, relax at the hotel, visit the pool and spa, or perhaps do a bit of shopping in town. All of our hotels on this tour have great views and gorgeous pool and spa areas, so we'll look forward to having time each day to enjoy those. Later, we'll enjoy dinner together at our hotel or another local restaurant. These are true gourmet, multi-course feasts, sometimes centered on local specialties, prepared by some of the finest chefs in the Alps. Our hotels all serve fabulous food, and our dinners will be exquisite, memorable affairs. We will leave one dinner in Pontresina free, so you will have a chance to explore on your own.
Actual hikes vary from trip to trip, but our itinerary will go something like this:
Day 1 The Grand Tour starts with arrival in Zürich and a train ride to Mürren, our home away from home in Switzerland. The trip takes about 4 hours. Mürren is an idyllic, car-free village, perched atop a sheer 3000-foot cliff above the waterfall-filled Lauterbrunnen valley (picture Yosemite with a Swiss village on top), and we will stay at the elegant and scenic 4-star Hotel Eiger. (Hotel Eiger)
If you're an independent hiker and prefer to go at your own pace, or have travel dates that don't match up with our guided tours, you may prefer to arrange the Grand Tour as a self-guided hiking tour.
This self-guided tour includes prepaid hotels with breakfast each morning and dinners listed above, a 4-day, 1st class Swiss Flexipass rail pass, Glacier Express reservations, rail schedules, hiking maps, detailed route descriptions, and lots of useful information that will help your trip run smoothly. The rail pass is good for 4 free days of rail travel, plus 50% discounts on most other trains and cablecars.
This tour can be customized to fit your needs. If you'd like to lengthen or shorten the tour, upgrade hotels (or go rustic), or create a customized tour of Switzerland from scratch, let us know. We have extensive experience across the Alps, and will be happy to work with you to build the hiking vacation that best suits your needs.
For info on our luxury tours of Switzerland,
call toll free: (888) 509-7810
or direct: (503) 459-3940
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